Prague was our first base when we started travelling full-time 5 years ago. We’ve been back six times since then and have spent a combined 7 months in this beautiful city. It’s still our favorite city in the world. We never get bored in Prague.
Prague gets a bad rap as being too touristy. If you stick to the main sites it’s true. But there are many tourist sites in Prague that get much less visitors. In this guide I’ll cover the “must see’s” as well as lesser known sites. I’ll even throw in a few places (and things to do) that don’t make it into the usual Guide book – Prague has some quirky things that set it apart from many destinations.
Get ready because I’m packing a lot of stuff into these 3 days. And because this is a “Mindless Guide“ I’ve planned it all out for you: the itinerary, where to stay, where to eat, how to get around…
Note: At the bottom on this post I have a PDF version of this guide. Print it out and you have everything you need.
Where to Stay
If you’re 3 days in Prague you should be centrally located. All my recommendations are close to the major sights. Mid-range. A very nice hotel is Dolce Vita Suites on the Old Town side of the river. Great value for the price. Myo Hotel Mysterius fits in the same category, with a great location in the Old Town. On the other side of the river, the Archibald at the Charles Bridge has beautiful views over the river and is again very good value for the money. Not far away, the Blue Oak is an excellent apartment hotel. High-end. The Four Seasons Hotel Prague on the Old Town side or the Golden Well on the Castle side. Both are incredible and if I found out that I had one week to live that’s where I’d blow the rest of my cash.
Your 3 Day Itinerary
Day 1. Visiting Prague’s “Must-See”Sights
Ok, you’re checked in and are ready for some sightseeing. Day 1 will cover Prague’s famous “must-see” sights – wear some good walking shoes and start early to avoid the tourist hordes.
Powder Gate and Municipal House
Start at the Powder Gate (15th century) which was the historic entrance to the Old Town. Right next to it is the beautiful Municipal House where they hold concerts (if you pass in front you’ll always have someone offering you tickets to a concert). Across the street from the Municipal House is a very pretty square named Náměstí Republiky. Have a look and take some photos of the Prague Trams (I loved the trams in Prague).
1 thing to do before the fun starts: Pick up some transport tickets, you’ll need them. There’s a metro station right there at Náměstí Republiky. Go down the escalators and buy them from the yellow ticket machine or from the teller. 5 tickets (of 24 Kc) per person should do it for my 3 day itinerary.
Back to the Powder Gate. It is one of Prague’s original Gates and would be the starting point for the coronation of Kings making their way into the old town (and across the Charles Bridge) to Prague Castle. DO: Go up the tower for one of the best views of Prague. In this post I cover all the best tower views in the city. The views from the Powder Town are unique because you’ll see all of the towers, spires, and buildings of the old town as well as of the Castle district across the river.
Basilica of Saint James
Pass through the Powder Gate into the old town. You’ll be on touristy Celetna St and will see lots of tacky museums, souvenir stores and Thai Massage parlors. Take a little detour to see the Basilica of Saint James (13th century) – though not that special from the outside the interior is magnificent and is famous for the 400-year old mummified arm of a would-be thief (legend is that he tried to take the jewels from the statue of the Virgin Mary at the altar. She grabbed his arm and wouldn’t let go. Monks had to cut his arm off).
Cross the street, though an arched passageway. It’ll bring you through a courtyard behind Týn Church (there’s a good but overpriced Indian restaurant there. Good for later). It will take you about a minute to reach the Old Town Square.
The Old Town Square
One of the most famous squares in Europe and in my opinion the most beautiful. See the Týn Church, the Old Town Hall and the astronomical clock, Jan Hus Memorial, and the Church of St. Nicolas. Every building on that square is gorgeous. Lots of tourists and street performers – you might feel overwhelmed by all the action going on. Pay to go up the Town Hall Tower (an elevator will take you up most of the way). The views are phenomenal. Have a good look at the astronomical clock – if you’re there close to the top of the hour stick around to see the show. Keep an eye on your valuables as it’s the favorite spot for pickpockets in Prague.
Drink. Have a beer or coffee on the rooftop of the Hotel U Prince for the best views of the square. It’s overpriced, best to just come for a drink.
Leaving the Old Town Square, the Klementium is just a few minutes away. This was the 3rd largest Jesuit college in the world and today houses the incredible National Library (which is really what the Klementium is known for). It also has the Astronomical Tower (the views over the city are great), The Chapel, and the Hall of Mirrors. NOTE: by guided tour only. See the website and write them to pre-arrange your tour. Absolutely worth it.
Jumping elevators at City Hall
What the heck is a “jumping elevator”? The technical name is a “paternoster” and it is basically a non-stop elevator that does a loop. You jump on and off. Still confused? Cross the street from the Klementium to the pretty City Hall building at the other side of the square. You’ll find the elevator walking around the ground floor (I’ve got more on that in this post, including a video).
Walk a block down to the river.
The Charles Bridge
One of Europe’s highlights. Dating back to the early 15th Century, it was the only bridge connecting the Old Town to the Castle district. It is 621 meters long (2,037 feet) and 10 meters (33 feet wide) with towers on either end, 16 arches, and over 30 statues dedicated to saints along its length. The views over the river Vltava and the castle district on the other side are fantastic. Do: before crossing the bridge, go up the Old Town Bridge Tower. It has amazing views in all directions and is a unique perspective on the bridge.
Eat: Just before going to the bridge, go through the tunnel of tacky stores and museums on the left. You’ll find a bunch of cafe/restaurants with great views of the bridge. There’s usually always a hot dog vendor there and I recommend a hot dog and a beer (we’ve never had luck eating in this area, tourist food at tourist prices).
You’ll probably spend 30 -45 min exploring the bridge and making your way across…
Lesser Quarter Square (Malostranské náměstí) and St. Nicolas Church
A bit up the street from the bridge, you’ll see this square surrounded by beautiful buildings. I think it’s one of Prague’s most photogenic squares. Behind the square you’ll see the very large St. Nicolas church (which is worth having a look at).
Make your way around the church and follow the stairs up to the castle…
The stairs will bring you to Hradčanské Square in front of Prague Castle. There you’ll see the beautiful gates of the castle as well as the often-photographed guards.
Prague Castle is the largest castle in the world. It holds many different buildings (including the office of the president of the Czech Republic) but the principal sites of interest for the visitor are St. Vitus Cathedral, the Royal Gardens, and Golden Lane (the little street that runs through the castle district). There are different tours of the castle available, the options are complicated and expensive (in my opinion). You’ve got 3 days in Prague so I recommend you don’t sign up for any tour. You can get into St. Vitus Cathedral (the highlight of Prague Castle) for free but they’ll only let you wander around the front third of the Cathedral. For more than that you have to be part of a tour. As I say I don’t think that’s necessary.
Don’t miss the Gardens. When you’ve seen St. Vitus, go around to the side on the right. You’ll be in a huge square looking at the side of the Cathedral. Opposite, you’ll see stairs in the corner. Go there…they’ll bring you down to the gardens and you’ll have sweeping views of Prague.
You can easily spend an hour in the castle district. Once you’re done, walk back to Hradčanské Square and walk up Loretanska. You’ll see many beautiful buildings on the route.
Loreta Church and the Strahov Monastery
Have a quick look at the Loreta Church, then continue on to the Strahov Monastery. If you want to visit the incredible library inside it’ll cost you (and you’ll also have to pay to take photos). You might just be happy to have a look from the outside. If you step out of one of the gates you’ll be treated to a view of vineyards in the foreground and the whole of Prague in the back. Quite spectacular. The Strahov Monastery is also know for it’s restaurant/brewery (Klasterni pivovar Strahov)– a bit touristy but a lot of fun…and the beer and food are very good. I would recommend that as a good diner spot after a long day of walking.
But first, if you have a bit more energy, continue on to the Petrin Tower (a 15 minute walk)…
The tower was modelled after the Eiffel tower in Paris and is actually higher (but only because it sits on a hill). Climb the tower…the views over Prague are spectacular.
Eat and drink – finish the day at the Strahov Monastery restaurant which I mentioned above. The food is good but the beer is great.
When you are done there are two ways of getting back to your downtown hotel. You can either walk down the hill or, if tired, take the 22 tram. The tram stop is just a few minutes outside the main gate of the monastery. If you’re located in the old town you’ll want to get out at either Malostranska or Malostranské náměstí. From either you can walk across either the Manesuv or Charles bridge to get to your hotel. Either way you’ll have beautiful views of the river and city lit up around you.
Day 2. Jewish Quarter, Gardens, and river views
Start from the Old Town Square. Pařížská street leads off the square. It has some of Prague’s most beautiful buildings and is full of high-end shops (Louis Vuitton, Prada, etc).
Prague’s Jewish Quarter was one of Europe’s most vibrant before World War II when the Jewish population numbered about 90,000. During the war most were sent to concentration camps and it is estimated that 70% were killed. Today about 5,000 Jews live in Prague.
Many come to Prague to revisit its Jewish history. Highlights include the Pinkas Synagogue (where 77,297 names are etched into the walls – all Jews who were sent and killed in Nazi concentration camps), the Old Jewish Cemetery (which predates WWII – small, but it actually holds over 100,000 bodies and is in some places is 10 bodies deep), the Spanish Synagogue (many Jews came to Prague after being booted out of Spain in 1492), the Old-New Synagogue (Europe’s oldest active synagogue), the Klausen Synagogue, and the Ceremonial Hall.
Note that all the above can be seen as part of the “Jewish Museum” ticket. The Old-New Synagogue is not included in that ticket. If you buy the ticket, it is recommended that you allow about 3 hours to see everything.
The Jewish Quarter is quite small and without the ticket you can still appreciate the history. The Old Jewish Cemetery is a “must see”. Between 1478 and 1787 it was the only place in Prague where Jews could be buried which explains all the headstones seemingly piled on top of each other.
Once you’ve finished exploring the Jewish quarter, continue along Pařížská past the ugly Intercontinental Hotel and cross the bridge.
Letna Park, Letna Beer Garden
Climb the steps up the Letna Park. It’s about 100 steps. You’ll see a strange metal structure at the top – that’s the Prague Metronome which replaced an enormous monument to Joseph Stalin.
Once you’ve climbed the steps you’ll arrive at a path that skirts the river all along Letna Park, giving fabulous views over Prague (I call it “Prague’s most Scenic Walk” and wrote about it here). Turn to the right and walk for about 10 minutes – you’ll arrive at Letna Park’s Beer Garden, an excellent place to stop for a beer, have a pretzel, and enjoy the views of the Old Town across the river.
When you’re done, walk back where you came from and continue along that path. You’ll see a lot of people walking their dogs and see lots of people getting drinks and snacks at the various food trucks along the way. It’s a very pleasant walk on a nice day.
Towards the end of the park you’ll see a building with an onion shaped dome – that’s the Hanavsky Pavilion. It is today a fancy restaurant/café. But walk to it. It sits at the edge of Letna Park and has the absolute best views of the river. Admire all the bridges and boats, all the tourists on the Charles Bridge below you, and all the beautiful buildings on either side of the river. If you don’t fall in love with Prague from this spot you never will.
Once you’re done, walk back a few feet and follow the steps down to the main street by the river…
Right behind Malostranska tram and metro stop are the Wallenstein Gardens. They’re gorgeous gardens with peacocks, sculptures and views of the castle above. These immense gardens are part of a palace built in the early 1600’s. And the best thing is that visiting them is free.
I love the views from the right hand side of this bridge looking across at the Charles Bridge (the next bridge over) and the cruise boats below.
Cross the river to the other side…
I made you cross the bridge so that you could see a few buildings on the other side. The most important of these is the Rudolfinum, home of the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.
Eat and Drink. This is also a good place for lunch. You’ll see a riverboat docked on the riverbank next to the bridge – it houses a nice Italian restaurant and is a nice place to take a rest while looking at the scenery in front of you.
Back on the Castle side of the river…
Walk back across the bridge and then turn down to the river bank. There’s a spot there right by the bridge where all the swans come the riverbank. It’s popular, everyone wants to have their photo taken next to the swans.
Just a few minutes away is the Kafka Museum which, unless you’re a Kafka fan, you’ll find extremely boring. BUT…within the courtyard of the museum is David Cerny’s “pissing Statue”. David Cerny is famous in Prague and you’ll find many of his controversial statues all over the city. The Pissing Statue is a favorite of most people.
Continue walking along the street that follows the river, you’ll soon find yourself walking under the arches of the Charles Bridge. On the other side, make a right and follow a path across a small canal. It will lead you to the John Lennon Wall which is a very popular place with younger visitors. The Wall is a place where people draw art, messages of love and peace etc. It all started in 1980 after the assassination of John Lennon and grew in popularity, much to the discontent of the Communist government at the time.
A few minutes walk from the John Lennon Wall is the Vrtba Garden. Unlike the Wallenstein Gardens you have to pay to enter – but it is worth it. The Gardens are built in terraces, all with great views of the castle district. It is somehow an incredibly peaceful place, you’d never think yourself in the middle of the city.
Go back towards the river. You’ll soon arrive at Kampa Park which is another beautiful place to walk along the river. You’ll see more strange statues (including gigantic baby statues – again sculpted by David Cerny) and will arrive at the Kampa Museum, a museum of Modern Art. Make sure you enter the courtyard for a peak.
If you’re not too tired, cross over the bridge that’s in front of you (Most Legii, or “Legions Bridge”). Go halfway, to the island and take the elevator down from the bridge. This is Shooter’s Island. It’s a great spot to just walk around enjoying the views on either side of the river. A popular activity here though is renting a paddle boat and paddling around the river. If you do make sure to holler “Ahoy!” to everyone (I explain that here).
Eat and drink. Walk back across the bridge to the Castle side staying on the same street. It will take you about 5 minutes to get to Olympia Restaurant. It’s probably my favorite traditional Czech Restaurant in Prague. They have their own beer and typical Czech dishes like duck and dumplings. Fun, loud atmosphere and there are as many locals as tourists. If you are in a mood for coffee and cake afterwards, the historic Café Savoy is just around the corner.
Day 3. Buildings, Forts, Museums, and New Prague
The starting point for Day 3 is close to where you finished off Day 2. You most likely saw the beautiful National Theatre building with it’s shiny golden (it’s actually copper) dome from a distance. People come here to see dance, drama and opera. However, unless you’ve bought tickets for a show it is almost impossible to see the interior (they will do group tours if you are a sufficient amount of people and if you pre-arrange it). Just seeing the exterior however is worth it.
Eat and Drink. Right across the street from the National Theatre is Café Slavia, an old-world-type café that is one of our favorites in Prague. Sit by the big windows and watch all the tourists and the trams, the Theatre on one side and the Castle across the river on the other…
Up the river
Walking up the river from the National Theatre you’ll see some beautiful buildings. One of the most beautiful buildings is the Goethe Institute building. It signals the beginning of a whole row of gorgeous pastel-yellow buildings that line the river. A block further is the strange but beautiful Dancing House. It was meant to be an avant-garde cultural center but that never quite panned out. Today it is a hotel with a bar at the top (DO: Go for a drink and great views).
From here it’s a bit of a walk (30 minutes) to the next destination. Instead take tram 17 or 27 to Vyton stop (that’s 2 stops if boarding at Jiraskovo Namesti ie. in front of the Dancing House).
The location of the first settlement in Prague, this fort is often overlooked by tourists. We love coming here. It houses a beautiful cemetery containing the remains of some of the most important people in Czech history, a beautiful church (Basilica of St Peter and St Paul), and a scenic location on the river. There’s even a vineyard on the grounds and you can sit down, drink wine, and watch boats cruising up and down the river below. You can easily spend a few hours on the grounds.
To get back downtown, make your way to Vyšehrad metro station. Take the metro (or subway if you like to call it that) in the direction of Letnany. Stay on for 2 stops, getting out at Muzeum.
I’m recommending something that we haven’t actually seen…
The National Museum has been closed for renovation since we first started coming to Prague in 2014. The Building is colossal, with a magnificent dome that can be seen anywhere in the city. The building finally re-opened in 2019. It’s is supposed the be gorgeous inside but it seems that they haven’t put all the exhibits in place yet. I recommend you have a look at the last test Trip Advisor reviews to see that latest…
Wenceslas square is not really a square – rather it’s a rectangle with the National Museum at one end, the Old Town at the other end. In front of the National Museum is the huge statue of Saint Wenceslas. He was Duke of Bohemia from 921 to 935 when he was assassinated (his brother was complicit in his murder). He is known as “Good King Wenceslas” and is considered the Patron Saint of the Czech Republic.
The whole of the square is modern, with stores, bars and restaurants. Many of Prague’s strip clubs are on the little streets just off Wenceslas Square (if you want to go to a strip club, we recommend Darling Cabaret. We mentioned it in this post).
Eat and Drink. Wenceslas Square is also a good place to get one of those sausages with mustard and sauerkraut while drinking a beer.
Lucerna Arcade – the Cerny Upside Down Horse
A block away from Wenceslas Square is a pretty, old-fashioned shopping center called Lucerna Arcade. Make your way into the lobby – there you’ll see, hanging from the ceiling, another of David Cerny’s creations: the Upside Down Horse. If you just came from Wenceslas Square you’ll know that the statue is his dark-humoured take on the original Saint Wenceslas statue…
Church of Our Lady of the Snows
Very close by is a very underrated church – the beautiful Church of Our Lady of the Snows. The Church (construction first started in 1397) actually has the highest vault of any church in Prague (34 meters). Make sure to walk around the gardens of the church.
Eat: The first two nights I recommended traditional Czech food in a brewery atmosphere. How about a nice, romantic Czech Restaurant for your last night? U modré kachničky II is recommended – the food is great and prices are good. You’ll love the cosy atmosphere.
Things to Do at night
You’ll be really busy with the 3-day itinerary that I have above. I figure you might just want to rest after diner. BUT if you still have energy for night time activities, here are some suggestions:
Prague Airport (officially Vaclav Havel Airport) is located 12 km from downtown Prague. Despite that, it takes around 45 minutes to get downtown. I have a detailed post here on Prague Airport and how to get downtown.
Below: We use CheapOair to find the cheapest and most flexible flights
My 3 Day itinerary is self-guided and with all the transport info, restaurants etc you can do it on your own. But some people have specific interests and want more detail. If so, here are some recommended Tours.
Highlights. This half-day Tour covers some of the “Basics”: The Old Town Square, Charles Bridge, and Prague Castle. It’s inexpensive and will give you a good overview.
Prague Castle. This 2.5 hour tour of Prague Castle. It actually starts at the Charles Bridge. They’ll take you by tram to the Castle where you’ll see all the highlights.
Jewish Museum. This 2.5 hour “Jewish Quarter tour” goes into detail. You’ll visit the Cemetery, the Spanish Synagogue, another Josefov Synagogue, as well as the Rudolfinium. Your guide will be an expert of Jewish history.
More Resources on Prague
I’ve written tons about Prague on this blog and they go beyond what you can do in 3 Days. If looking for more things to Do, have a look at some of these posts.
If you have any questions on Prague, feel free to comment or to send us a private email at [email protected] We’ll be happy to help you out.
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